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The Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises | Build Strength and Size

June 07, 2023

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If you want big arms you need to be focusing on the triceps. Being the larger muscle of the two upper arm muscles (Triceps and biceps), the triceps are responsible for roughly 70% of arm size, so it makes sense to spend 70% off your arm day workout focusing on them.

As you’re probably aware, the triceps consist of 3 ‘Heads’, the long head, the lateral head and the medial head. This article will laser in on the best Medial head exercises for strength and size.

Medial head triceps exercises are a must if you’re looking to get stronger and add size. However, the big question is, what are the best exercises to facilitate this?

This is, in fact, one of the baffling questions to most people looking to work their triceps. This is simply because there are many exercises out there being recommended, but which ones actually work? And if you've been hitting the gym with the intention of getting bigger and stronger, then we’ll need to know how best to spend our time so that we get the most bang for our buck.

Besides wanting to get bigger arms, working on your triceps will have some health benefits, and the strength you gain in this region will help spill over to other muscle groups (chest, shoulders).

So, before we dive into talking about what exercises are best for working the Medial Head Triceps, let's first understand the triceps anatomy.


Triceps Anatomy

Triceps brachii is the upper arm's major muscle with two essential functions. The primary function is to extend your elbow, while the other function is shoulder extension (pulling your arm down from the front-of-body or overhead position). In addition, when it comes to shoulder joint, the triceps play an essential role in stabilisation (1).

Triceps anatomy

The triceps feature three parts called heads (2), which include:

  1. Long head: This head is situated on your upper arm on the side closest to your body, and it is, in fact, the largest head among the three tricep heads. The lateral head and medial head originate on the humerus, but unlike these two heads, the long head is the only tricep that originates at the scapular.
  2. Medial head: This tricep is situated at the posterior upper arm's bottom center. It is the smallest of the three heads and attaches to the humerus.
  3. Lateral head: Just like the medial, the lateral head attaches to the humerus but at a lower point. This head is bigger than the medial but smaller than the long head. The lateral head's fast-twitch muscle fibers ratio is higher than the other heads, so it is considered the strongest tricep head. This head is situated on the outside of the posterior upper arm. (3)

Now that you know what makes triceps, let's learn effective ways to work on the medial tricep head.


How to work the Medial Tricep Head

First, it is essential to note that it is virtually impossible to isolate and work on one tricep head alone when exercising. However, we can simply find various exercises and exercise cues that help shift the emphasis onto the medial head more when completing our tricep workouts.

And so, here are the best ways to target the medial head tricep when exercising:

  • Ensure that you keep your elbows close at your sides
  • Use the underhand grip or what we call the reverse grip

Besides these two techniques, it is also essential that you keep muscle fibers in mind. Unlike the lateral and long head, which are made up of more fast twitch muscle fibers than slow twitch, the medial head features more slow twitch muscle fibers. Therefore, this means the medial head will respond better to higher reps. On top of ensuring the above two techniques are met when exercising, you should also perform exercises in higher rep ranges (4).

So, regardless of the exercise, incorporating the above variable is the best way to emphasize and exhaust the medial head. Remember, irrespective of the tricep exercises you chose, each exercise will target more than one head (but that’s not a bad thing!)


The 9 best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

Many exercises can work your medial tricep head; some deliver greater growth potential while others deliver less. So, here 9 best medial head tricep exercises that have been proven to provide effective results.  


Reverse Grip Floor Press

This type of exercise is ideal for building big and robust triceps, and it is, in fact, one of the most highly practiced medical exercises. Additionally, this exercise is a shoulder-friendly pressing variation and is suitable for those with shoulder problems.

Typically, the triceps are more active during exercises, such as chest pressing exercises, when you don’t complete the full range of movement, ie. Having the floor there to stop you. To ensure you hit the medial head while on a floor press, you will need to utilise the reverse grip.


Bench Dips

This exercise is the perfect medial tricep exercise for everyone simply because you can do it anywhere (at the gym, home, park, etc.). Additionally, you don't actually need additional weight to help you with this exercise.

Bench dips an effective exercise as it mainly emphasizes the medial head. This exercise movement will help you improve your core and upper body strength as well as overall conditioning.


Reverse Grip Cable Pushdown

This is one of the top exercises shifting the emphasis on to the medial head rather than the lateral and long heads. What makes it really effective is that your elbows are kept at your sides while doing the exercise. Additionally, you will be using the underhand grip, which in that case, allows you to target the medial exercise well.

One good thing about this exercise is that most people find it to exert less stress on elbows, majorly due to the underhand grip.


Overhead Triceps Press

This exercise is reckonised as a long head tricep exercise; however, it can also be used to activate and build the medial head.

The effectiveness of this medial exercise is proven in the Acta Orthopaedica​ study.. The study shows that working your arm at (or near) 180 degrees of the shoulder increase the medial head tricep involvement.

Keep in mind that you must keep your upper arm pointing straight up to ensure this exercise is effective and hits the medial triceps. This exercise helps you build more strength and increase the overall size of the medial tricep.


Reverse Grip Dumbbell or Barbell Press

Besides being a being a brilliant chest builder, it’s also a great exercise for the triceps. The two muscle groups are closely linked, and many people still like to perform chest and tricep workouts as the muscle groups complement each other well.

If we utilise a reverse grip, we can further target the triceps.

The reverse grip in this exercise does two things. It puts more emphasis on the upper pecs and more emphasis on the lower portion of the triceps. It also helps protect your shoulder joints by taking pressure off of them.

Despite working the chest and all of the tricep heads, it’s still an important exercise to utilise when looking to grow the medial head.  This exercise will also allow you to work with heavier weights, and since strength and size are closely related, if we can get stronger, then we’re going to get bigger.


Cable Rope Pushdown

Commonly known as a lateral head exercise, the cable rope tricep pushdown is also an effective medial tricep exercise, as shown by the EMG studies. Surprisingly, the activation of both medial and lateral triceps is almost the same.

Another fact that makes it an ideal medial exercise is that it allows high reps, which overloads and exhausts the medial head, making it grow.


Cable Overhead Extensions

This is another very effective exercise that delivers outstanding results within a few weeks. However, its emphasis is on the long head, but if you focus on the high rep range, you will get some serious medial head activation.

Keep in mind that to gain more, you will have to fully extend your arms to avoid cheating out your high reps.


The Triangle Pushups

Also known as Diamond Pushups, the triangle pushups are ideally not the best exercises to start with, but as you gain more experience, it’s worth giving them a go. Of course, it is a difficult movement, but if you have done any of the above exercises for a couple of months, you can jump onto this without any significant complications.

This exercise targets both the medial head and the lateral head, and it is one of the best exercises you can do without any equipment. It is similar to traditional pushups; however, the change in the positioning of your hands changes the target muscle while increasing the difficulty.


The JM Press

This compound exercise will target more than one muscle group at once. Among the muscles groups that this exercise will target are the chest, delts, and triceps. It’s kind of a cross between the bench press and a skull crusher, 2 great exercises for building size in the tricep region. Note, if you’re new to the gym, we’d recommend starting with the easier exercises and moving onto this one when you’ve got some experience under your belt.


Final Thoughts

Generally, when it comes to hypertrophy and aesthetics, the medial head seems less important than the other tricep heads, due to it being the smallest of the 3. Furthermore, the lateral and long heads have much greater growth potential than the medial head as they make up most of the triceps and can easily be targeted when training.

Nonetheless, having a big and stronger medial head acts as a strong bridge between the two heads, as well as enabling precise movements. So overall, a stronger medial head leads to a stronger lateral head and long head, which is why you need the best medial head tricep exercises in your workout regime.

The best medial head tricep exercises Pin




Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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